But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus , to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 (ESV)
Often times when we think of “The Gospel”, we think of the 4 gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As Young Life leaders, we tend to spend the majority of our time and speak almost exclusively out of the New Testament (and usually the 4 gospels) when communicating with kids. But we would be remiss if we didn’t realize that the Gospel is communicated from the first verse of the Bible through Revelation. One of the most helpful personal studies I did came from a college assignment my daughter told me about where her college professor assigned them the task of explaining the Bible in 15 sentences.
It forced me to think through the 7-10 main points of both the Old and New Testaments and as I struggled to put this together I began to see a common theme or message. The message of the entire scripture that jumped out to me was God’s relentless pursuit of man that He might be in relationship with us. John Ortberg, in one of my all-time favorite books Soul Keeping sums it up better than I can as he tells the narrative beginning in Genesis.
“But the man and the woman sin, deliberately hiding from God among the trees of the garden. Yet God would not be denied. He went after them—in fact, the whole narrative of the Bible is all about God going after us. Relentlessly pursuing us. As Adam and Eve hid behind the trees God created, he called out, “Where are you?” Physically, he knew exactly where they were. What God was really asking was, “Where are you in relation to me?” All God has ever wanted is to be with you, with me. How can that happen?
A Very Brief History of Life With God
Consider the biblical character Enoch. We know hardly anything about him, but we’re told Enoch walked with God. Noah walked with God. God was with Abraham, his son Isaac, and his other son Ishmael. God was even with Jacob, a manipulative deceiver. Then a whole tribe, the nation of Israel.
God was also with Joseph—and here’s where “with God” starts to get interesting. Joseph ran into a really hard stretch in his life, and we learn that “the Lord was with Joseph” in slavery, and then, in prison. In other words, God is not just in the garden anymore—he shows up even in the most painful and difficult places. That’s good news for anyone in trouble, and a hint of the Good News to come.
Then God is with Moses, Gideon, Samuel, Ruth, David, and many others until one day God cuts a hole in the wall and a baby is born. We’re told, “and they will call him Immanuel (which means, ‘God with us’).” Now in Jesus we get a little glimpse of what this “with God” life is like.
Soul Keeping-John Ortberg
I encourage you to take on this assignment and summarize the entire Bible in 15 sentences. Know the story well. Understand the message of the entire scripture on how Christ’s life, death and resurrection were the pinnacle of the great news of the Gospel. The idea that we can be with and walk with the God of the Universe and that all of history points to this amazing opportunity we all have is what we want each kid in Young Life to have the opportunity to hear.